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Russia to build its own helicopter carriers to replace French Mistrals (PHOTOS)

Russia confirms plans to start building helicopter carriers for its naval infantry next year.

Alexander Mercouris

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Russia’s President Putin held a meeting a few days ago to discuss the state of the Russian shipbuilding industry.  This meeting comes on the heels of confirmation that the Russian navy is now absorbing a bigger share of budget spending than the Russian air force or army.

One subject that is certain to have been discussed is Russian plans to start construction next year of helicopter carriers for the Russian naval infantry to replace the cancelled French Mistrals.

The Russian naval infantry – Russia’s marine force – is a relatively small elite force very differently configured to the far bigger and more powerful US Marine Corps and with a very different role.  The Russians have never used their naval infantry as a power projection force in the way the US Marine Corps is often used, and Russian naval infantry – unlike US marines – scarcely ever operate independently.  To the extent that the Russians have a power projection force, that role is traditionally fulfilled by their much bigger paratroop forces. 

The role of the naval infantry has traditionally been to carry out sea borne landings in the enemy’s rear in support of the ground operations of the Russian army.  The Russians appear to have carried out exactly that sort of a landing on the coast of Georgia during the 2008 South Ossetia.  Russian naval infantry alongside Russian paratroopers and special forces have also been deployed to Syria to support Russian military operations there, with naval infantry landing ships of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet being used to ferry supplies there.

Though the troops of the Russian naval infantry have managed to maintain their elite status and their high level of training in the years since the Soviet collapse, their sea-lift capability has severely declined since the Soviet period with a sharp reduction in the number of amphibious warfare ships they can call on.  Moreover these ships, of the Ropucha and Alligator classes (below), are now old and outdated, lacking the helicopters which modern marine forces today consider essential for effective landing operations. 

A Russian Ropucha II Class (Type B 23) Landing Craft, Tank floats at anchor off the shores of Vladivostok, Russia, during Exercise COOPERATION FROM THE SEA '96. The exercise is a joint venture between US and Russian naval forces designed to improve disaster-relief operations and to further understanding between the two nations.

A Russian Ropucha II Class (Type B-23) Landing Craft, Tank floats at anchor off the shores of Vladivostok, Russia, during Exercise Cooperation from the Sea ’96.

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A Russian Alligator Class Landing Craft.

The Russians sought to make up for this weakness by buying Mistral helicopter carriers from France.  The Mistral sale was however hugely controversial both with France’s NATO allies and in Russia, where the shipbuilding industry was unhappy that such an important order had been placed abroad.  In the event the Mistral sale was cancelled by France after construction of the first carrier had already been completed as a result of the Ukrainian crisis.  This has however opened the way for the Russians to design and build helicopter carriers themselves to their own design replace the Mistrals.

Two different designs have been proposed, a larger design called the Lavina (below) – at 24,000 tonnes and with a maximum speed of 22 knots bigger and faster than the Mistrals – able to carry 500 troops, 16 helicopters and 50 armoured vehicles, and a smaller design called the Priboy (below) – of just 14,000 tonnes and carrying only 8 helicopters but apparently also able to carry a similar number of troops and vehicles to the Lavina.   

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A model of a Russian Lavina Class Helicopter Carrier.

Of the two designs a definite decision has been made to build the Lavina class, with construction of the first due to start next year. 

Some Russian spokesmen have hinted that there are also plans to build the Priboy class (below) as well, apparently to complement the larger Lavina class.  This would follow the deployment plan intended for the Mistals, where the 6,000 tonne Ivan Gren class (below)  the first example of which has now been finished and is now on trials – was planned to be built to complement the Mistrals.

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A model of a Russian Priboy Class Helicopter Carrier.

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A model of a Russian Priboy Class Helicopter Carrier.

The Ivan Gren class (below) has had a protracted and difficult construction history (work on the first started as long ago as 2004 and has only just been finished) largely because of lack of enthusiasm for the class from the naval infantry, who saw it as already outdated since it can only carry 2 helicopters.  A decision has been taken to discontinue construction of the Ivan Gren class after completion of the second ship, which is expected next year.  It is possible that the far more capable Priboy class is intended as the successor. 

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The Ivan Gren Class Large Amphibious Assault Ship has a displacement of 5,000 tonnes. These amphibious vessels can support beach landing of up to 300 marines, 40 armored personnel carriers or 13 tanks and carry the Kamov Ka-29 type helicopter on the deck. The landing ships are armed with a 76-mm naval gun, two 30-mm AK-630 anti-aircraft mounts and multiple artillery rocket systems.

Though the Mistral sale was ultimately unsuccessful, it enabled the Russians to familiarise themselves with modern amphibious warfare helicopter carriers of the type nowadays used by marines and naval infantry.  This was a type of ship the Russians had never previously operated or built.  The Russian shipbuilding industry is claiming that building helicopter carriers like the Lavina and the Priboy is cheap and easy, far more so than building frigates or submarines, which Russia already builds in quantity. 

Whilst there is no indication so far of how many of these ships the Russians intend to build, it likely they will build at least two of the Lavina class and possibly as many as four.  If the Russians do decide to order the Priboy class to complement the Lavina class, then a possible order for these type of ships might be six.  Together with the two Ivan Gren class the Russian naval infantry would then finally have the potent sea-lift capability they have long wanted.

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Sergey Lavrov SLAMS new US sanctions over Skripal case

Ruble continues to tank under the spectre of looming American sanctions imposed on the basis of circumstantial evidence and insinuation.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS News Agency reported on Sunday, 12 August that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed the US Department of State’s accusation against Russia regarding the attack on Sergey and Yuliya Skripal in Salisbury, England earlier this year.

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The State Department made the decision to impose new and very painful sanctions against Russia based on this premise.

This new round of sanctions is hitting the Russian economy very hard. The Ruble slid against the dollar from about 63 rubles on Thursday to more than 67.6 rubles as of 1:30pm UTC (Greenwich Summer Time) on Sunday.

Foreign Minister Lavrov had this to say:

“I think that all who know even a little bit about the so-called Skripal case, understand the absurdity of the statement in the official document of the US. Department of State that the US has established it was Russia behind the Salisbury incident.”

TASS went on to outline the circumstances:

On Wednesday, the US Department of State said in a statement that Washington was imposing new sanctions on Moscow over its alleged involvement in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the British city of Salisbury. The first round of sanctions will take effect on August 22, while a second round may be introduced in 90 days in case Russia fails to meet certain conditions, the State Department said. Moscow has on numerous occasions rejected all the allegations about its involvement in the Salisbury incident.

The current round of sanctions goes into effect on 22 August, and is directed as follows, according to Bloomberg.com:

The initial round of these sanctions will limit exports to Russia of U.S. goods and technology considered sensitive on national security grounds, including electronics, lasers and some specialized oil and gas production technologies, according to a State Department official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity Thursday. The official said the action could block hundreds of millions of dollars in exports. Waivers will be allowed for space-flight activities and U.S. foreign assistance.

Under the 1991 law — invoked previously only against North Korea and Syria — a second, far more extensive round of sanctions would follow later unless Russia meets conditions including providing assurances it will no longer use chemical or biological weapons and will allow on-site inspections to verify it has stopped doing so, the official said.

Russia Thursday repeated its denials that it has the weapons or used them and held out little hope for compromise.

The added sanctions could include a downgrading in diplomatic relations, blanket bans on the import of Russian oil and exports of “all other goods and technology” aside from agricultural products, as well as limits on loans from U.S. banks. The U.S. also would have to suspend aviation agreements and oppose any multilateral development bank assistance.

The additional sanctions also could be averted if Trump declared that waiving them would be in the U.S. national interest, a politically risky move in light of criticism that he’s been too soft on Russia on issues including interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

The action by the US State Department is being viewed as an internal political counterattack against US President Donald Trump in response to his overtures to President Vladimir Putin at the Helsinki Summit in July of this year. In that summit, the two leaders had very frank discussions that looked incredibly positive for the prospect of a true thawing out of the troubled relations between the two great world powers.

However, the event appears to have drawn out the elements within the American power establishment which presently comprises most of Congress and almost all of the news media. Even some conservative media outlets joined briefly in condemning Mr. Trump for “selling out” to Vladimir Putin by saying he had no reason to believe Russia would interfere with the American elections.

While Mr. Trump tried to politically backpedal this remark, the die had been cast and now much of this establishment has invested their time and energy into branding Mr. Trump a traitor to the USA. In a similar vein, as reported by Jim Jatras in his piece here, US Senator Rand Paul also made overtures that were warmly received by Russian senators, and now he too, has been marked as a traitor.

In that light, plus even British media acknowledgement that there is no hard evidence whatsoever that ties the Russian Federation to the poisoning of the Skripals or the second couple in Amesbury more recently, it is clear that all deductions have been made on spurious reasoning and no hard facts.

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War is coming – to the United States and to the world

The all-but-inevitable Second American Civil War is likely to be fought away from US soil if the globalists have their way.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Jim Jatras’ piece, reposted in The Duran framed the political mess that Donald Trump – and the United States –  is in, extremely accurately:

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First US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki and appears to make some progress towards his stated goal of putting ties between Washington and Moscow on a positive course. Immediately, all hell breaks loose. Trump is a called a traitor. The “sanctions bill from hell” is introduced in the Senate. Trump is forced on the defensive.

Next Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky visits Moscow, where he meets with Putin and gives him a letter from Trump proposing moderate steps towards rapprochement. Paul also talks with Russian Senators and invites them to come to Washington to continue the dialogue. Immediately, all hell breaks loose. Paul is called a traitor. The State Department “finds” the Russians guilty of the using illegal chemical weapons (CW) in the United Kingdom and imposes sanctions. Trump is forced even more on the defensive.

It is debatable how much of the US government Trump actually controls. This is the crux of the problem.

One President and one US Senator standing alone against all the Democrats and almost all Republicans in both Houses of Congress. Standing alone against a media culture dominated in the West by interests along the lines of cultural Marxism and anti-Christianity at any and all costs.

The truly fearsome power of the globalists appears to have the upper hand.

President Trump and President Putin are both dedicated and brilliant men. They have been trying to make a difference despite the enormous power being brought to bear against them. Rand Paul, for his part is also contributing to this.

The effort to marginalize President Trump has met with great success, though not total. The Russiagate investigation may be coming to its end; certainly a lot of information has revealed that the matter of election interference was never a Republican, much less Trump-related, phenomenon.

But the matter continues not to die.

The changes in prosperity and economic growth in the United States are astounding, especially in light of former President Obama’s insistence that it could never happen.

But the midterm elections approach, and there is not a clearly resounding wave to get more people who are on the Trump Train so to speak to continue to make and widen the impact of domestic change, as well as geopolitical change.

The inevitable outcome appears to be only one thing: War.

This war will be the Second American Civil War. 

While it must be said that the attribution of fault made is utterly incorrect, the New Yorker piece linked above does correctly list five conditions that set the table for such a conflict:

[Keith] Mines [with the US State Department] cited five conditions that support his prediction [of a new American civil war]:

  • entrenched national polarization, with no obvious meeting place for resolution
  • increasingly divisive press coverage and information flows
  • weakened institutions, notably Congress and the judiciary
  • a sellout or abandonment of responsibility by political leadership
  • the legitimization of violence as the “in” way to either conduct discourse or solve disputes

It is not hard to see how these conditions have come to be so in the US.

The only problem is that it is very unlikely to be fought in the United States. It is likely to end up in Europe, Russia, Ukraine, perhaps parts of the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia.

We might well be faced with the prospect of a “government in exile” as Mr. Trump and those supporting his viewpoints are forced to flee the US.

The ideological viewpoints about Russia are not very important to many American people, but the home front will pit two sides that are both destined to lose.

One side is the ideological Left – like those people we consider “loony California liberals”, whose belief in open borders and the rejection of any sort of Christianity-based or traditional family values will cause their side to eventually implode.

The other side is what we might call the “right” or the Americans that support President Trump. However, they too are somewhat influenced by the very pervasive anti-Russian propaganda and it is likely that this group will be divided within itself, though they will be allied against the left.

For this reason, this opposition group will also suffer from a great deal of internal weakness.

This would normally lead to a bloody and protracted conflict. However, the greater danger with this lies in the pervasive power of the Western Media. It is extremely likely that the media will work to deflect attention from the true nature of the war and incite American forces to strike at Russia in some sort of direct, or by-proxy military action.

The picture the American people will be presented with is that Russia is trying to take over the world, when in reality Russia is simply trying to hold her own territory and her own ways.

Is there a way to stop this?

Yes. There is a way to stop it. The election of President Trump bought the US and the world a bit of time because Mr. Trump is so dynamic that it is difficult to truly stop him. The hallmark of his presidency is success in just about every aspect he has paid attention to.

But what he needs is congressional support.

It is very unlikely that the upcoming 2018 midterm elections offer a chance to create a truly pro-Trump agenda majority in Congress. But it can raise the number of dissenting voices to a number greater than one (Rand Paul). A strong vocal bloc of senators and representatives that speak with one voice about this issue could be enough to break through the wall of censorship of the American media. It could give voice to millions of Americans who also believe that this fight is coming, and who want to stop it.

Avoidance of this war will certainly not happen if establishment candidates or worse – liberal Democrats – win the midterm. With such a situation, the President will be marginalized greatly, and the rhetoric against Russia as a scapegoat will only increase.

The outcome is mercilessly logical.

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Saudi Crackdown On Canada Could Backfire

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not apologizing for his country’s call that the Saudis release human rights activists.

The Duran

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Authored by Tsvetana Paraskova via Oilprice.com.


Like many spats these days, the Saudi Arabia/Canada one started with a tweet. Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called for the release of Samar Badawi, a women’s rights activist who is the sister of jailed blogger Raif Badawi, whose wife is a Canadian citizen.

The arrests had taken place in OPEC’s largest producer and leading exporter Saudi Arabia, which has amassed its wealth from oil and now looks to attract foreign investors as it seeks to diversify its economy away from too much reliance of crude oil sales.

Canada’s foreign ministry’s global affairs office urged “the Saudi authorities to immediately release” civil society and women’s rights activists.

Saudi Arabia—often criticized for its far from perfect human rights and women’s rights record—didn’t take the Canadian urge lightly. Saudi Arabia expelled the Canadian ambassador, stopped direct Saudi flights to Canada, stopped buying Canadian wheat, ordered Saudi students and patients to leave Canada, froze all new trade and investment transactions, and ordered its wealth funds to sell their Canadian stock and bond holdings in a sweeping move that surprised with its harshness many analysts, Canada itself, and reportedly, even the U.S.

The Saudi reaction shows, on the one hand, the sensitivity of the Kingdom to criticism for its human rights record. On the other hand, it sent a message to Canada and to everyone else that Saudi Arabia won’t stand any country meddling in its domestic affairs, or as its foreign ministry put it “an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom.”

The Saudi reaction is also evidence of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s harsher international diplomacy compared to the previous, ‘softer’ diplomacy, analysts say. Saudi Arabia is also emboldened by its very good relations with the current U.S. Administration, and picking a fight with Canada wouldn’t have happened if “Trump wasn’t at the White House,” Haizam Amirah-Fernández, an analyst at Madrid-based think tank Elcano Royal Institute, told Bloomberg.

The United States hadn’t been warned in advance of the Saudi reaction to Canada and is now trying to persuade Riyadh not to escalate the row further, a senior official involved in talks to mediate the dispute told Bloomberg.

The row, however, will not affect crude oil exports from the Kingdom, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih has said, adding that Riyadh’s policy has always been to keep politics and energy exports separate.

Canada imports around 75,000-80,000 bpd of Saudi oil, and these barrels can easily be replaced, CBC quoted analyst Judith Dwarkin as saying earlier this week. The chief economist of RS Energy Group referred to this amount as “a drop in the bucket” at less than a tenth of Canadian crude imports compared with imports from the United States, which amount to about 66 percent of the total. The United States could easily replace Saudi crude thanks to its growing production, Dwarkin said.

Still, the strong Saudi message to Canada (and to the world) is not entirely reassuring for the investor climate in Saudi Arabia, which is looking to attract funds for its economic overhaul and mega infrastructure projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars each.

“The Saudi leadership wants to drive home a message that it’s fine to invest in Saudi Arabia and bring your money to Saudi Arabia, but that there are red lines that should not be crossed,” Riccardo Fabiani, a geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects, told Bloomberg, but warned that such strategy could backfire.

Analysts are currently not sure how the feud will unfold, but Aurel Braun, a professor of political science and international relations at the University of Toronto, told Canada’s Global News that Saudi Arabia is unlikely to back down and reverse all its retaliatory measures without getting something back from Canada.Related: The Unforeseen Consequences Of China’s Insatiable Oil Demand

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is not apologizing for his country’s call that the Saudis release human rights activists.

“We have respect for their importance in the world and recognize that they have made progress on a number of important issues, but we will, at the same time, continue to speak clearly and firmly on issues of human rights, at home and abroad, wherever we see the need,” Trudeau told a news conference this week.

The economic impact of the Saudi retaliation on Canada is unlikely to be large, but the fact that Saudi Arabia is whipping the oil wealth stick to punish economically what it sees as “blatant” interference with its affairs is sending a message to other countries, and a not-so-positive message to foreign investors.

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